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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-06-30

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:






Monday, June 30, 2003



The President of the Security Council, Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov, has scheduled informal consultations at 3.00 p.m. today on Liberia, including the letter dated June 28, 2003 from Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the President of the Security Council, which is out as a document today.

In that letter, the Secretary-General requested that the Security Council take urgent action to authorize the deployment to Liberia of a highly trained and well-equipped multinational force, under the lead of a Member State, to prevent a major humanitarian tragedy and to stabilize the situation in that country. Such a force, he said in the letter, would be authorized under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.

In response to reporters questions in Geneva today, What we need now is the political will to act in face of this gross violation of human rights, this serious and tragic humanitarian situation, with innocent civilians caught in the middle.

The Council is going to discuss my proposal and I hope that they will approve it. And just as we have seen in the recent past, the United Kingdom working with the West African and UN peace keeping operations to calm the situation in Sierra Leone, the French taking leadership of the multinational force in the Congo, and also helping in Côte d'Ivoire. There are lots of expectations that the United States may be prepared to lead this force. Of course, that is a sovereign decision for them to take, but all eyes are on them.

At the consultations, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tuliameni Kalomoh is expected to brief the Council members on the latest situation in Liberia.


The situations in Liberia, Cote DIvoire and Guinea-Bissau were discussed in meetings yesterday in Abuja, Nigeria, between the Security Council mission to West Africa and President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas and other ECOWAS officials.

Our mission is aimed to deepen the partnership between the international community and the countries of West Africa and its regional organization on three issues in particular, British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, head of the mission, told a press briefing following his meetings in Abuja. The problems facing Guinea-Bissau, Cote dIvoire and Liberia are all the focus of our current visit, while we are also looking in on Guinea and Sierra Leone because we wish to take forward the relationship between the countries of the Mano River Union now that there is a better hope of lasting peace in Sierra Leone.

On Liberia, Greenstock noted the likelihood that the Security Council would be supportive of a force for Liberia, noting that it was made clear to the delegation that ECOWAS would need help in this regard. This help could come in a variety of forms from a variety of nations, he said.

From Abuja, the Mission traveled yesterday afternoon to Accra, Ghana, from where it is travelling today to Abidjan, Cote dIvoire. On the agenda tomorrow in Cote dIvoire are meetings with President Laurent Gbagbo, the signatories of the ceasefire agreement, as well as the political parties and civil society.

The mission began on Friday in Guinea Bissau, where at the end of the two-day visit, Mexican Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, acting head of the Mission, said, "We leave confident that the President will be ready to announce a new date for the elections very soon."


Today is the last day of the Russian presidency of the Security Council.

Spain takes over the Council presidency for the month of July starting tomorrow.


The Secretary-General welcomed the announcement made today by Palestinian groups regarding a cease-fire.

A statement released in Geneva said he hopes that the groups, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority will do everything necessary to ensure that the cease-fire represents a full and complete end to violence and terror and is a turning point in breaking the cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis.

In the statement, the Secretary-General commends the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for its sustained efforts to help bring about this cease-fire.

Friday, in a statement issued in New York through his Spokesman, the Secretary-General welcomed the withdrawal agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Secretary-General, the statement said, looks forward to continued implementation of the Road Map, leading to a permanent settlement of the conflict based on Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397. He also commended the vital role played by the United States in facilitating this critically important agreement.

With these two agreements, the task now is to press ahead with the difficult process of implementing the Roadmap, so as to make a reality of the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.


This morning in Geneva, the Secretary-General addressed the 2003 High-Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council.

In his remarks, he underlined that the challenge was now not to decide what to do, but rather, simply, to do it. He also said that the Doha program was more than just another round of trade negotiations, but aimed to eliminate the unfair competition faced by farmers and producers in poor countries. It could provide a powerful engine of growth, thus facilitating the attainment of the Millennium Developments Goals.

The Secretary-General then had back-to-back meetings with José Maria Figueres-Olsen, his Special Representative on Information and Communications Technologies, John Negroponte, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, and Martti Ahtisaari, his Special Envoy for the Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The Secretary-General took a few questions from journalists before attending a luncheon hosted by Gert Rosenthal, President of the Economic and Social Council. He took this opportunity to commend ECOSOC once again for choosing to focus on the key subject of rural development, which lied at the heart of the hopes of achieving the Millennium Developments Goals.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General chaired a meeting on migration and asylum issues, before he visited the International Labour Organization.

The Secretary-General has departed for Bern, Switzerland this afternoon.


This morning in Baghdad, the Secretary-General Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, opened a two-day workshop on the justice system and accountability for past human rights violations committed in Iraq.

In his opening remarks, he said that for more than a decade the UN human rights system and human rights NGOs documented the gross violations of human rights suffered by the Iraqi people. Thousands of men, women and children, he went on to say, from all walks of life had often been targeted by Saddam Husseins regime simply because they disagreed - or were thought to disagree - with those in power. The mass graves that are being unearthed, he added, are a witness to some of the most egregious violations of our most fundamental right: the right to life.

The sheer scale of this problem is daunting, de Mello told the delegates. Conservative estimates talk of some 300,000 missing people. Their families want to know. Their families want justice, he said.

This meeting is an important first, de Mello declared Iraqi lawyers and human rights experts along with international specialists and representatives of the Coalition will discuss and identify guiding international principles and policy options to ensure accountability and justice for past human rights violations committed in this country.

In addition, de Mello today met today Imam Husain Al-Sadr, a religious leader in Baghdad, Mr. Chadirji, leader of the Democratic Union and will meet later tonight with Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress.

On Saturday, de Mello traveled to the city of Najaf on Saturday. There he met Ayatollah Ali Mohammad al-Sistani. During the hour-long meeting, Sistani expressed his concern at the slow pace and many other issues derailing the process of permitting Iraqi responsible leaders to take charge of their affairs. The idea of writing a new constitution for Iraq was also discussed at length.

De Mello also met Imam Muqtada Al-Sadr, leader of the Sadriun Movement, for over 30 minutes. Al- Sadr emphasized the fact that any formation of any political entity was doomed to failure unless it is supported or endorsed by the Iraqi people themselves. He suggested to conduct a referendum to approve or reject the Political Council suggested by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

Lastly, he met with Imam Mohammad Baqir Al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Hakim underlined the fact that there are many ways to reach a more representative Iraqi body. He said that only Iraqi people can choose their representatives and any imposed leadership would fail and hurt those who will impose it.

De Mello, in his remarks promised to convey the views of the leaders to the CPA and will work hard to get these views across.


Today is Hans Blixs last day as Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission for Iraq (UNMOVIC).

In a letter sent to Blix over the weekend, the Secretary-General expresses his profound gratitude and admiration for the way he handled the intense demands of the job.

Few United Nations official, the Secretary-General writes, have demonstrated the calm, grace and professionalism that you have in the face of virtually unprecedented pressure and attention over the past several months.

Your steadfast integrity, objectivity and sound judgment were an asset to the organization and the international community as a whole, the Secretary-General went on to write.

Blix has served as head of UNMOVIC since March 1st 2000.


In a letter to Kenzo Oshima, Under Secretary-General for the Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who is serving his last day at the United Nations today, the Secretary-General expresses his enormous appreciation and regard for his exemplary service.

Oshimas efforts, the Secretary-General writes, to alleviate suffering always showed great skill and sensitivity. He notes that, among many other issues, Oshimas voice played a key role in focusing attention on the ongoing fallout of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.


The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported that yesterday three armed components the Government, Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) and Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), and three armed entities signed a memorandum on the army and security.

The head of the UN Mission, Amos Namanga Ngongi, called the agreement a significant step forward in the peace process. He added that a considerable step forward had been completed towards the actual start of a transitional government.


The Secretary-General, in his report on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea published today as a Security Council document, notes that the peace process is at a critical stage.

Heemphasizes that lasting peace cannot be built on the basis of temporary arrangements and that in the absence of significant forward movement, precious momentum could be lost and prove difficult to regain.

Progress is required in the expeditious demarcation of the border and political dialogue between the two countries with a view towards consolidation of the peace process, he says.

The Secretary-General also says that the completion of the peace process will allow the parties to address the humanitarian emergency caused by the protracted drought and the effects of the long conflict.


Published today is the Secretary-Generals latest report on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR).

In the three months since the coup detat on March 15th, the overall situation in the CAR is being brought under control with considerable difficulty, the Secretary-General says. Although somewhat improved in the capital, the security situation along the countrys roads and outlying towns remains difficult. The restoration of security, he says, remains the prerequisite for a smooth transition and the holding of elections.

To that score, the UN political office in the CAR, under the leadership of the Secretary-Generals Representative, Lamine Cissé, will work the restructuring of the countrys defense and security forces.

He adds that the United Nations will continue to encourage the authorities to ensure respect for the human rights of all Central Africans, irrespective of ethnic background or political affiliation.

He also calls on the international community to present effective support for the upcoming elections and to provide generous support for the restructuring of the security forces.


In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General called the entry into force of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families not only a milestone in international cooperation on migration but also a landmark in the broader struggle for the international protection of human rights.

Noting that only 22 countries have ratified the Convention, the Secretary-General encourages other countries to sign and ratify this important instrument.


TIMOR: Asked about news reports alleging trafficking in prostitutes by officials from the UN mission of support in East Timor, the Spokesman said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had just received the article and was looking into the matter. She also said the Office of Internal Oversight Services is also conducting an investigation that is on going.

AIDS/AGRICULTURE: 12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:14.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) today issued a joint report on the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture in Eastern and Southern Africa. font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-font-weight: In the report, the UN agencies urgently call on the Ministers of Agriculture to include HIV/AIDS in their programmes and activities to fight the growing epidemic, which last year claimed the lives of more than 3 million agricultural workers. According to FAO, the epidemic could kill 16 million more by 2020 if no action is taken.

HUMAN RIGHTS: In a joint statement, experts of the UN Commission on Human Rights expressed alarm at the growing threats against human rights as a result of the policies and practices used by many countries to combat terrorism. The experts said that any anti-terror measures taken by countries must be made in accordance with international human rights conventions and protocols. The rights experts met in Geneva from 23 to 27 June.

BALKANS: The UN Liaison offices in Zagreb, Sarajevo and Belgrade will complete their mandate and close at midnight. These offices were established following the closure of the peacekeeping missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and Croatia (UNMOP) to provide continuity, disseminate information, and facilitate contacts with local authorities. This marks the end of UN peacekeepings 10-year presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The UN Liaison Office Belgrade will merge with the UN Mission in Kosovos office in Belgrade to create a new UN office in Belgrade. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UN will continue to stay actively engaged in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the work of the UN family of specialized agencies.

POPULATION: World Population in 2300 is the focus of a population experts meeting today at UN Headquarters. This is the first time that the UN Population Division has looked so far into the future -- 300 years -- with its population projections.

  • The guest at the Noon Briefing was Olara Otunnu, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict who discussed the situation in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

    United Nations, S-378

    New York, NY 10017

    Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only

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    All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to:

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